In our new series of blogs, we turn our attention to the issue of marketing, specifically which functions within the marketing domain should be outsourced, and why this is the case? In the first blog, we give an overview of the subject.
Generally, it could be argued that marketing activity falls into two segments as follows:
- Programme management
- Marketing execution
The purpose of this blog is to address the question of whether it’s advantageous to outsource tasks in either or both of those domains and, if it is, what activities are most likely to be positively impacted by outsourcing.
What marketing does
The two segments identified above break down as follows:
These are the core directional tasks of marketing. They include deciding strategy, developing and managing the budget, creating a marketing plan and then organising what’s in the plan, reporting results (P&L), and organising resources. They’re the fundamental activities of the CMO and their team, and they’re rarely if ever outsourced, nor should they be.
The tasks in this domain emanate from the decisions made in programme management. The marketing plan will list activities to be undertaken, but the successful discharging of these activities will require a broad range of specific skills such as copywriting, graphic design, and telemarketing. In contrast to programme management, some or all of these activities are often outsourced by companies across industry verticals.
Why are activities in the first domain rarely outsourced, yet activities in the second far more often so? Generally, companies hire marketing professionals to run their marketing and market professionals are (unsurprisingly!) trained in how to run marketing programmes. They understand how to plan, budget, and generate reports; they understand how to prioritise marketing activities.
However, they are not professional copywriters, designers, or cold callers (although they may, depending on the individual, have some skills in one or more of these areas). So once they’ve set up their programme, in order to ensure that it’s executed successfully, external skills are often required. That’s where outsourcing comes in.
Outsourcing your marketing: high level
Whether outsourced or not, marketing success is dependent on skill and expertise. To produce high quality marketing campaigns that get results, any organization must be able to access the best talent possible. If its core marketing team, as is common, aren’t expert graphic designers, copywriters, cold callers and the like, then the company must either recruit to fill those functions internally, or outsource them.
At the highest possible level, the arguments for each alternative are well known. Recruiting full time-employees comes at a cost (and benefits!); outsourcing certain less high-usage roles ameliorates those costs and commitments while allowing the organisation to still accrue the value that their specific expertise brings.
Here’s the rub. Your programme management functions; the core “marketing department” activities noted above, few if any organisations will outsource and with good reason. To do so would amount to not having a marketing department at all, at least one within the company. Planning, reporting, managing, etc. are 24/7 activities central to overall corporate health.
But execution is not. Expert copywriting, proven calling skills, competent graphic design are certainly functions necessary for success, but they are needed on a case-by-case (or campaign-by-campaign) basis; for all but the largest companies they may not represent a commitment that needs to be made 24/7. They are, rather, “specialist skills”. And that’s where the argument for outsourcing really begins.